The Coup in Portugal
Sensitive Intelligence Sources and Methods Involved
AdditionalVVsrnlng NATIONAL SECUBITVNWFORMATION Unauthorized Disclosure Subject to Criminal Sanctions
The Coup in Portugal*
TABLE OF CONTENTS
PORTUGAL IN AFRICA
Pressures to Get Out
CHANGING ATTITUDES .
Other Groups in Society
*?hia memorandum waeprepared undor the auepioea ofNational Intelligence Officer for Weetern Europe. It uao drafted by CIA (OCI).
The Coup in Portugal
The virtually bloodless coup that toppled the government of President Thomaz and Prime Minister Caetanoh was triggered by Lisbon's African policies and the divisions within the military to which they gave rise. Superbly organized ond well-led, the insurrectionists took the government by Loyalist forces offered only token resistance, and aftsr fleeing to the headquarters of the national guard, Thomaz, Caetano, and se"eral other ministers agreedew hourr. of negotiation to go into exile in the Madeira Islands. Thus far the newappears to be in complete control.
The leaders of the rebellion, who calledthe "armed forcesre almostbut they wore almost certainly middle-level officers devoted to General Antonio dc Splnola. After broadcasting an initial proclamation that called foriberalization of Portugal's colonial policiesestoration of domestic liberties, the rebel junta promptly called on General Spinola to head their movement. Spinola accepted the call and reportedly received an enthusiastic public welcome in Lisbon. roclaimed head of the seven-man Junta of National Salvation which was established to run the new government.
peech after hin designation, Spinolato work toward the early rees^ablishment oi Heonstituent assembly andresident of the republic will be chosenree election. Spinola himselfikelyfor president.
nation are welcome
Spinola's accession to poweremarkable demonstration of the power of both pen and sword.ost decorated war hero, he is also the authorook that dared to sayilitary solution to the problem of insurgency in the African territories is impossible andoliticalmust be found. Although perhap3 not wholly out of lino with Caetano's own thinking, the bookensation when it appeared last February. It ledmall but abortive "i. ireh on Lisbon" in March, and left the country gripped In coup fever ever since. Despite Lisbon's nervous moves earlier this month to arrest various oppositionists, the governmentwas una'/are of the magnitude of the coup threat Lt faced.
'is "head ofpinola appears to be off to an auspicious start. prestige is such that, despite the divisions withinarmed forces, he may be able to keep them fully under control. The country, despite the influence of the ruling oligarchs and the radicalism of some ot theelements, may be ready for some modest movement toward change at home and abroad. Spinola canexpect better relations with the rest of Europe, his NATO allies, and international critics ofoversoaa policies. He mayoss demanding negotiator in the Azores base renewal talks.
However, it is alsc very possible thatictory may be the beginning of his troubles. Havinginto power on the African issue, it is very doubtful that he has any real solution to it. The kind of commonwealth ho has in mind is not ultimately acceptable to the African insurgents, anJ it is far from certain that he can carry Portugal with him in the long process of achieving an honorable escape for the army from the African swamp.
The paragraphs that follow provide additional background on the events that led to Spinola*striumph and what .ay lie in store for him.
Portugal in Africa Rationale
For moreecade Portugal has beeninsurgencies in Angola, Portuguese Guinea, and Mozambique. Lisbon bases its commitment on itsforears in the African territories and its trevjnent of them as integral parts ofin the Portuguese constitution. Lisbon believes that it hasulti-racial society which is quite different from chat of the former colonialand from the white minority governments of the Republic of South Africa and Rhodesia. Thestress that the overseas territories are aheritage which they cannot honorably The Portuguese also believe that they need the overseas provinces and their potential wealth and strategic location to maintain Portugal'sstatus and its economy.
Except for Portuguese Guinea, the Africando in fact offer significant immediate and long-term economic returns to certain economic grcups in Portugal. Large corporations in the metropole, ownedew powerful families, control virtually all aspects of the territories' modern economicincluding local industry, commerce, banking, and plantation agriculture. The metropole receives preferential trade treatment, and it controls the territories" sizable foreign exchange receipts.
Thus far, however, the over-all returns have net been sufficient to offset the expense of economic development and of fighting the insurgents. Only Angola comes close to paying its own way and may now be contributing as much asercent to itsand war costs.
Military operations have been costly in manpower and in money. When the rebellion beganortugal's armed forces0 men, of whom
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less0 were stationed in Africa. As the insurgencies spread, the total figure rose accordingly and leveled off at3 with moreerving in Africa. Although someercent of these forces are from the territories--niany of themservice hasanpower shortage, aggravated by the emigration of young workers from the metropole to Western Europe. But the situation has been bearable because theof soldiers killed in action has been relatively low in recent years, amounting to
The military effort has alsoeavyburden. 0 Portuguese defense spending totaledS million. he figure had increased almost five-fold, amounting to more1 million. ercentage of the Portuguesebudget, these defense expenditures representedercent5 percent, andercent ercentage of GNP, defense costs have increasedercent0igheveling off atercent This is almost twice thefor the principal NATO countries.
Pressures to Get Out
These costs have been high enough to raisedoubts about Lisbon's long-term chances ofthe provinces. An upsurge of attacks by black insurgents in Mozambique last January andcaused concern in Lisbon that theecurity problem there might be getting out of hand. But the real concern is ovor the stalemate inGuinea. There the Portuguese control the towns and principal roads, but the guerrillas control much of the hinterland with neither side able to oust the other. The situation is discouraging enough to have led some military leaders, such as General Spinola, to declareilitary victory is impossible and toolitical solution, suchlan for But such alternatives appeal neither to the far right, nor to the insurgents who of course want immediate freedom.
reign Dissem secret
The crisis that led to the coup dateshen General Spinola, then vice chief of staff of the armed forces and former governor and commander in chief in Portuguese Guinea, published his book Portugal and the Future. Spinola calledew Portuguese constitution to provide civil liberties and democratic institutions in all areas administered by Portugal and toederation of sovereign states between Portugal and its overseas possessions. Plebiscites to determine if the Africans want to remain with Portugal would be allowed. Spinola acknowledged that this policy would risk the eventual severance of all ties between Portugal and its overseas territories, but he accepted this risk in the belief that continuation of past policies would virtually guarantee such an outcome anyway.
Rightists were outraged by the public airing of such views and demanded Spinola's removal along with that of his chief, General Costa Gomes, who supported Spinola. Prime Minister Caetano, who initiallythis pressure, gave in and removed Spinola and his chief. The very conservative General Luz Cunha was appointed to Costa Gomes' post and some officers sympathetic to Spinola were reassigned. In response, some petitions were circulated in favor of Spinola, and on Marchaan army unit near Lisbon, led by young officers sympathetic to Spinola and Costa Gomes, attempted to march on the capital. However, they were intercepted and arrested by troops loyal to the government.
The military was deeply divided by these events. Most of the senior officers, led by the then-new chief of staff of the armed forces, General Luz Cunha, are opposed to General Spinola's ideas which, in their opinion, would lead to the loss of the African These officers participatedublic oath
of loyalty to the government/ and the refusal of Costa Gomes and Spinola tothe grounds that the military were not supposed to be involved inthe ostensible reason for their being sacked.
On the other hand, some high-ranking officers supported Goneral Spinola, especially his thesisilitary victory io impossible. They do not want the army tocapegoat for giving up in Africa and saw Spinola's proposals as an honorable way out. Until the coup, however, it did not appear that these moderates were interested in an attempt to overthrow the government on African policy. Indeed it was not clear that Spinola and Costa Gomes wanted to do that either. Neither had any known contact with the military regiment that marched on Lisbon, and Spinola said that he was awaiting another military assignment.
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A number of junior and middle grade officers also supported Spinola's ideas. Some of these were angered enough over his firing and the arrests and reassignments of his supporters to circulate protest petitions, and some participated in the small-scale march on Lisbon. There were also reports in March and April of dissent among the military in the African provinces that apparently aroused theof the Directorate General of Security.
are nevertheless astute
businessmen- and probably would in time adjustev Portuguese relationship with the African prov-inofjs. Many of them favoi more rapid economic growth eu.f1 closer association with Europe- and most have already diversified their investments so that their wealth is not dependent on their African holdings,
conomic ties with Western Europe, whicn in recent years .lave developed more rapidly than its economic links with the African territories, provide an alternative to the African Lies- This factor would make it easier than before forcommercial interests Lo consider alternatives
in Africa if the cost of fighting the dissidents
The church has been circumspect about criticizing the Caetano government, but in recent years individual
against the lack of civil
have strained relations between church andeace vigil heldisbon church on New Year's Day last year inriesttrongcondemning Portugal's warn in Africa led to the arrest of several prieats and militant Catholics. The episode increased public awareness of internal opposition to the African wars and the arrest of the priests almosthurch-state clash.
Last July the Portuguese bishops issued aletter which called for greater personaland increased political participation by the laity. Although they avoided the question of the war in Africa, the Conference of Bishops in the metropole in October expressed solidarity with the bishops ofaction indirectly critical
of the government's restriction of civil rights there. Lastetition circulated in Nampula diocese in Mozambique that was critical of the churchfor collaborating with Lisbon inepressive system in Mozambique. The government responded by ousting the bishop and six of the priests who signed the petition. Prospects, therefore, are that should yesterday's insurrection lealore liberal-minded government, it would find anumber of allies in the church.
Other Gtoups in Society
Labor, intellectuals, students, and illegal opposition groups have had little or no voice in Portuguese policy for years. Some small terrorist groups have set off occasional protest bombs, but these have been of no consequence to the government. Nevertheless, the unrest in the military thatafter the firing of Spinola and Costa Coines last month apparently worried the government that dissident groups would use the resulting situation to demonstrate. Premier Caetano warnedpeech that any such demonstrations would only leadrackdown, and in early April, the police arrested someppositionists, most of whom wereeeting toonsumer cooperative.
Although sparked by the Spinola book, thecauses of crisis were therefore building for soine time. During the past four or five years Caetano hadat least tried toialoguepossibilityoosening of Portugal's tight grip on its African territories. Duringegislative elections, Caetanoebate on the overseas policy. Whan the oppositionresponded, however, the military took alarm andan on the subject. Caetano'samendments approved inprovided for local autonomy in domesticonly after he gave assurances to the ultras that he had no intention of wakening Lisbon's control.
aCRKT No For ram Dissem
Caetano's strength heretofore had been histo balance pressures from ultra-rightists and moderates, and to know when to draw back. As the rebellion dragged on with no end in sight, Caetano continued to make cautious moves to reopen the sub-jeot of more local autonomy for the Africans. These moves reportedlyight-wing group to make an effort last December to pressure President Thomaz to replace the Prime Minister with an ultraconserva-tive. But their plan was thwarted whenhigh military officers who supported Caetano brought counter-pressure to save him. When Spinola's book waswith Caetano'sthis was too much for the ultras, however. Caetano was unable to rosist their demands that the general be fired, and in doing so the Prime Minister made his survival more dependent on the ultra right than before. This upset the political balance Caetano had tried to maintain, and since mid March Caetano had seemed at pains to try to redress it.
In his speech to the nation on Marchfter the abortive military revolt, Caetano reassured the rightists by pledging that Portugal would neverthe African provinces. But he also sought tothe moderates by dealing gently with the rebels who marched in Lisbon, and by refraining fromSpinola and his federal solution. The Spinola book continued to be sold in Lisbon.
The New Questions
Whatever Caetano's intent'.ons, his failure to achieve them has in any eventroat manyquestions. Perenost amon3 them is of course the further evolution of the political situation in Portugal itself. The ccup has thus far conec.ose toeaceful change of government. The rebel forces appear to have been exceedingly well organized and competently led, while the forces loyal to the government havefar at least--not to resist. General Spinola, having accepted the call to leadership,espect that might bo sufficient to keep the situation within the armed
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forces fully under control. In due course they could possibly begin to put into effect the domestic and overseas policy reforms that they and theespouse.
Working against this scenario of esse* change, however, willumber of divisions that had developed withinfc cos are real and deep, and the newthus have to move with some caution. Portuguesehas been looking more toward
the future, the^^emainxor the most part riqidly conservative in their views of society. f the opposition elements that have been operating more or less aub roea in Portugal will be willing to operateiberalized governmental machinery, but some of the more radicalot. With President Thomaz apparently exiled by force, some question of the government's legitimacy will linger.
By far the areater hazard to the new government, however, will be what now happens in the overseas territories. The basic insurgency problem remains, the wait-and-see attitude that civilian and military elements in the territories have taken may beand the insurgents may take heart from Lisbon's disarray. General Spinola's idea- ofusitanian commonwealth do not meet the insurgents' requirements, and any movement in that direction will perforce require time and the continued Portuguese military presence. The colonial forces might be willing toairly prolonged period of transition ifolicy seems to have some chance of extricating the army with its self-image intact. But if the policy falters, Spinola will be in trouble. Meanwhile, Rhodesia and Southnever sure of Portugal's stayinglikely feel they have no choice but to increase theirestablishment.
So far as Portugal's external relations are otherwise concerned, there is good reason to believeew and more reformist regime in Lisbon would in several ways be helpful. Portugal's Africanhave madeariah among its European allies
SECRET No Foreigc Dissum
arget of anti-colonialiBt criticism in the international community at large. Its prospects for closer relation? with the European Communities would be considerably improved if its overseas policies seemed to be movingewlookingrther to the future, the colonies themselvrs miahtloser association with the EC an advan' tageous prospect. The Portuguese events will of course be watched with intense Interest in Spain.
. JHly^in^eth^nodern weapons that Portugal has been seeking from the US in tM Azores basehave been largely tied to the insurgencyit is quite probable that the new government will moderate its demands.